A recent survey showed a surprising uptick in the percentage of American men who now find homosexuality to be “morally acceptable”—a rise from around 40% for men of all ages in 2006 to around 55% today (and well over 60% for men under fifty). The story received an op-ed comment in the Times from Charles Blow, who offered three hypotheses for the shift: increased contact between gay and straight people; a more egalitarian ethic among men in general; and reaction to the many, many scandals involving homophobic politicians and religious leaders who’ve been busted as gay in recent years. Of the three, only the third seems capable of explaining so drastic a shift in such a short period of time. Plus, it makes the most sense psychologically. All those rabid homophobes turning out to be gay has put the fear of Liberace into insecure straight guys who thought they could shore up their hetero bona fides by advertising their homophobia. Wrong! Turns out, far from protecting your little secret, that over-compensation stuff just gives you away; so straight guys are cool with the gay thing all of a sudden. Having hit them like a bolt out of the blue, this revelation is the kind of thing that could bring around those 15% of American men in just four years. So what if the underlying motive is self-serving rather than enlightened? It seems these guys are already getting used to the idea of seeing themselves as tolerant straight dudes with nothing to prove.
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